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Airbnb looks set to take over Lowestoft-based Hoseasons as part of $1bn deal

PUBLISHED: 13:11 10 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:09 11 December 2017

TheWoods social area, at Hoseasons at Lowestoft. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

TheWoods social area, at Hoseasons at Lowestoft. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Room-sharing website Airbnb looks set to take over a 70-year-old holiday business which started in the Norfolk Broads.

A Hoseasons Autograph range lodge. Picture: HoseasonsA Hoseasons Autograph range lodge. Picture: Hoseasons

Airbnb could take on Hoseasons, based in Lowestoft, as well as a number of other brands in a $1bn deal – the company’s biggest yet.

Other brands would include James Villa Holidays and cottages.com, which are part of a portfolio of property rental sites put up for sale by Wyndham Worldwide Corporation.

And although the website – which allows users to rent anything from a sofa in someone’s front room to a whole apartment – is vying for the set against other big players such as Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners, the Sunday Times reported Airbnb was “serious in its interest”.

Sources told the Sunday Times Wyndham “doesn’t really want” to sell to Airbnb but the Silicon Valley giant may be in the best place to offer the best price.

Hoseasons in Oulton Broad in the 1970s/1980sHoseasons in Oulton Broad in the 1970s/1980s

Hoseasons began in 1944 with one small boat yard on the southern broads, owned and run by Oulton Broad’s then harbourmaster Wally B Hoseason. After finding he had a talent for selling his own holidays, Wally started to help out his boatyard neighbours and Hoseasons Holidays was born.

The fledgling business was originally based in Bridge Road, Oulton Broad, next door to what is now The Copper Smokehouse.

The office was called Sunway House, after the Sunway Café that was converted into the Hoseasons headquarters.

In October 1993, the business relocated to Raglan Road to create space for more staff and to allow the business to grow, taking the name Sunway House with it.

The premises have been upgraded and renovated over the years and a new office has been created to accommodate the IT department and web team – which would have barely been needed 20 years ago when few people had even heard of the internet, let alone had access to it.

However, by 1999 people were getting connected and, in response, Hoseasons made sure it was at the forefront of the internet revolution when it became the first UK self-catering holiday company to offer direct online booking.

Upgrades to the current premises include the installation of 60-inch information flat screens in the call centre, and on-site showers for staff who cycle to work.

Hoseasons employed about 100 workers in the 1990s, with the workforce growing to 200 during the busy Christmas and New Year period when people traditionally plan and book their summer holidays.

Jobs with the company were in high demand and hopeful candidates would queue down the road on recruitment days to try in the hope of securing an interview.

Those lucky enough to secure a permanent position often stayed.

Hoseasons was purchased by Wyndham in a £40m-plus deal in 2010.

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